The initial good stuff: every hauler now has a role; there are no worthless or useless haulers. In particular, I'm pleased to see that several haulers -- notably the Iteron IV -- received specialty bays. If you're flying Orcas or freighters or whatever, you might not see the point to these bays but my eye is on the newer players that are most often in these T1 haulers. And what I see is a brand new EVE player on EVE day one being able to train Gallente Industrial II and haul 50k of ore or ice back to station every couple of minutes during big mining ops.
Make no mistake: this is a good thing. I can remember a lot of days early in my EVE career that this would have been incredibly handy.
Each race still has one max cargo hauler and one quick hauler and yes, that's a tiny bit disappointing. But I'll live with it for now, particularly since there's been more effort to give each of the eight haulers in this group somewhat more distinct roles. For the quick haulers, I'm particularly pleased at the Iteron's drone bay (something I argued for based on player feedback in the first thread) and the Badger's base cargo bay. I think we're going to see some interesting combat fits from the first and it's great that the first hauler that most EVE players fly will be a worthwhile choice right into their career mid-points. That's a nice step forward. I'll also be interested to play around with the Wreathe; I think it's going to be a nice go-to ship for low- and mid-level Distribution missions.
All four of these ships have pretty decent "Catalyst numbers" which is going to make them hard to gank, and most have the grid and the slot layout to fit both a MWD and a pretty nice tank. I think you for-profit gankers should look at them really closely as your "scoop loot and run back to gate" ship. Which one will be preferred for this work? I suspect it'll be the Wreathe. It seems to have the best mix of base HP, mid-slots, speed, and grid for fitting a tank.
For the big haulers, the max velocity bonus is traditionally used to assist with "slow-boating"... the process of using auto-pilot to move low value cargoes from place to place. All four of the specialty haulers also retain this bonus. So hauler ganks should continue to be quite common, even easy since almost all of these ships have received nerfs to effective tank. But there isn't a lot of differentiation between these four ships now. The funniest will be battle Badger IIs, now apparently sporting both a turret and a launcher, though fitting is going to be tricky.
The specialty haulers will be fun to experiment with. You can probably blame me for the increase in Hoarder unpackaged size, by the way. I pointed out to Rise that a Rorq carrying four of them would be able to carry 406,000m3 of citadel torps, just the thing for you mineral compressors out there. So yeah, sorry about that... but no, no I'm not. Even with this change, I suspect that a lot of carrier and Rorq pilots will keep a packaged Hoarder nearby. I'll be one of them. The ability to carry 50 to 60 thousand cubic meters of ammunition when needed will be hard to resist.
The best thing about the specialty haulers being Gallente and Minmatar is that you can train both Gallente Industrial and Minmatar Industrial to Level II and get the bulk of the benefit of the specialty haulers. So there's reason to cross-train, but you don't have to let cross-training consume you.
Am I completely happy? No. I don't get the fast hauler also being the tanky hauler; I would have split those roles into two distinct haulers. I still don't care for the fact that every race has one max cargo hauler and one quick hauler; I would have split that up a bit more, too and given each race distinct choices. I'm uneasy about the only viable way to tank a hauler continuing to be shield-tanking; that seems to me to put the Amarr haulers at a distinct disadvantage. And I would have liked to have seen a few more interesting bonuses, like a tractor beam velocity instead of a velocity bonus on the specialty ore hauler, for instance. So I'm not completely happy.
But I'm happy enough. For now.
Every hauler will now do something interesting. And CCP Seagull has made it clear enough that big changes for industry-minded players are coming, something that Rise pointed out too. As that happens, over time, we as players (and your CSM representatives, of course) can argue for a few more tweaks here and there. Which is a good thing I guess, because Rise is clearly wanting to move on to other things...
...please don't expect version 3, I have to get on with my life at some pointHee! OK, then. On that note, Rise, I have some suggestions as to what should be next. ;-)